The Making of Empire, II: India, Madras, Bombay and Bengal 1765–1778
Early British rule in India was built on Indian foundations. In Bengal the British were able to build on the foundations of a well-established state and a flourishing economy. Above all, the new East India Company rulers could tap Bengal's wealth through a system of taxation collected from the countryside. The essential task of early British administration was to enforce taxation. This enabled the Company to maintain a large army in Bengal, both to protect their interests there and to safeguard their other major Indian settlements, Madras and Bombay, which had only limited resources of taxation and were drawn into largely unsuccessful conflicts with strong neighbouring Indian states. British aspirations to empire in India in the later eighteenth century depended on Bengal.
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